War period signature with rank
(1812-97) Born in Fairfax County, Virginia, he was the son of Francis Lightfoot Lee II, grandson of Richard Henry Lee, brother-in-law of Francis P. Blair, Jr., and Montgomery Blair, and cousin of Robert E. Lee. He was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1825, and saw extensive service at sea, including action during the Mexican War. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he was captain of the sloop of war, Vandalia. Lee then commanded the steam sloop, Oneida, in the 1862 New Orleans, Louisiana, campaign, and in operations on the Mississippi River. He became well known among Washington's social elite due much to the influence of his wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of Francis Preston Blair. Being a native Virginian, he was asked about his loyalty to the United States, and Lee famously replied, "When I find the word Virginia on my commission, I will join the Confederacy." This quote was often referred to because of the actions taken by his famous cousin, General Robert E. Lee, and thus illustrated how the war divided families. In September 1862, Lee was appointed commander of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron with the rank of Acting Rear Admiral. His flagship at this time was the Philadelphia. He led this force for over two years, during which time it was responsible for the blockade of the North Carolina coast and operations on North Carolina and Virginia inland waterways, all areas of very active fighting between Union and Confederate forces. He transferred to the Mississippi River Squadron, October 1864, and commanded it to the end of the war. His flagship during the Mississippi campaign was the Black Hawk.
War period signature with rank: 2 1/2 x 1, in ink, S.P. Lee, A.[cting] R.[ear} A.[dmiral].